Man cleared of HIV infection in combo drug treatment, preliminary reports say

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A Brazilian man may have cleared an HIV infection after initial findings showed a combination of drugs may have flushed the virus from his body, according to multiple reports.

The São Paulo patient, whose name was not released, was given a combination of antiretroviral drugs and nicotinamide to rout out the virus lingering in reservoirs of cells. He was diagnosed with HIV in October 2012.

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Blood tests capable of detecting the virus did not reveal an HIV infection, researchers at the Federal University of São Paulo said, according to a report from the New York Times. Antibody levels to the virus also went undetected.

Researchers discussed the results with reporters at AIDS 2020, the 23rd international AIDS conference, held virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The only other known cure offering long-term HIV remission resulted from bone marrow transplants in two people. However, these transplants are risky, expensive, complicated and are not a realistic option for the estimated 38 million people with HIV infections worldwide.

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According to Science Magazine, the São Paulo patient has gone 66 weeks without signs of infection.

The experiment failed, however, in four other patients, who saw the virus quickly return after stopping all treatment, Science Magazine added.

Some experts are skeptical of the preliminary findings. Dr. Steve Deeks, an HIV researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Times that the absence of antibodies to HIV is the most interesting thing about the case.

Deeks had no involvement in the work, and says it is too soon to tell whether the São Paulo patient really is cured of the HIV infection.

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